A side bridge is an ab exercise that can help to eliminate love handles and strengthen the abdominal muscles. It involves an athlete lying on his or her side and supporting the entire body on just one foot and one arm while holding the rest of the body straight. From the position of the basic side bridge an athlete can perform more elaborate exercises such as the side crunch. It does not require any equipment, so it is an effective ab exercise for athletes who don't have access to large gyms.
To perform a side bridge, an athlete should start by lying on his or her side with the legs straight. He or she should then support the upper body using the elbow and forearm of the arm closest to the floor. The upper arm will be perpendicular to the floor, and the shoulder joint should be directly on top of the upper arm.
Using the abdominal muscles, the athlete then raises his or her hips off the floor. This will result all of the weight of the body being distributed between the elbow that is on the floor and the foot that remains on the floor. The body should be in a straight line with no bending of the spine. The upper leg should rest on the lower leg, and the athlete should bend the arm that is on the upper side of the body in order to place his or her hands on the hip. The athlete should then hold this position for desired amount of time before lowering his or her body back to the floor and repeating the exercise on the other side.
This exercise provides its primary benefit to the abdominal muscles while the body is straight, so the best way to measure progress with this exercise is by determining how long an athlete is able to hold the position. Beginning athletes should try to hold the position for at least four seconds, although it is not uncommon for someone to be able to hold the position for a full minute.
Once an athlete is able to hold the side bridge position and remain stable for a long enough period of time, he or she can start to consider some other workout possibilities that the side bridge makes available. It is possible to perform a side bridge by locking the arm straight and supporting the weight on the hand instead of the elbow, although this requires a fair amount of arm strength. From the traditional side bridge position, it also is possible to perform side bridge crunches, which provide a more intense workout for the abdominal muscles.